Brunch of Love

Posted: June 13, 2010 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

I love Brunch. The best thing, I think, about living in New York City is that brunch is a real meal. On Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 4pm, you can go to a restaurant and get foods that are neither on the breakfast nor the dinner menu – and drinks that you would never order if it was dinner.
My favorite place to get brunch is Essex, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Essex serves som great brunch fare – excellent eggs benedict, a cubano that makes even this skeptic’s mouth water. Their Bloody Marys are spicy and strong, and the waitresses walk around with pitchers of mimosas, and up until recently, they didn’t keep count, so your 3 free mimosas were more like “3″ free mimosas.
Shamefully, even though I always say that I’m going to branch out and try some of their other wondrous things, I always end up getting one of 2 things; I love the Southern – biscuits and sausage gravy with fried eggs – and I love love the Mexican Matzo Brei – basically migas, with black beans and chunky guacamole.
I’ve tried a couple of their other offerings, but sadly I was disappointed – I always come back to the two faves, and my absolute favorite is the Mexican Matzo Brei. I generally don’t try to replicate restaurant favorites at home, instead leaving them to the experts. I believe that if you can do something perfectly, I should pay you for that.

However, a few weeks ago I was motivated to attempt to make Mexican Matzo Brei in my own kitchen. I blame the Pioneer Woman, mostly. She had a recipe in her cookbook for Migas, which I decided I would hack, because I didn’t have the patience to fry my own tortillas, and I don’t do cilantro. As I was reading it over, I realized with a start that here was the thing I’d been hoping for all my life! A recipe for Essex’s Mexican Matzo Brei!! I ran to assemble the ingredients, and started cooking.

Mexican-Matzo-Migas
adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks and Essex restaurant

1. Assemble your cast of characters: 1 bag of tortilla chips, 6 eggs, Shredded “taco” cheese, 1 red bell pepper, 1 jalapeno pepper, 1 fryer pepper(aka cubanelle), 1 tomato, 1 red onion.

2. Dice 1/2 the red onion, 1 red bell pepper, and 1/2 the fryer pepper very finely and evenly. Heat up 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat, and add the red onion and peppers. Cook until they are brown, but NOT sweated- we want crunch, not mush.

3. Beat the eggs with  1/4-1/2 cup of milk, salt, and pepper. Crush 2-3 big handfuls of tortilla chips until they’re roughly 1/2 inch squares, not to powder.

4. Chop up 1 tomato and 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed (unless you want the heat) and add the tortilla chips and jalapenos to the skillet. Stir, cook for about 30 seconds, and add the tomatoes.

5. Add the eggs, folding gently to cook the eggs without smashing things up or turning them to mush. When they’re mostly set to your liking (I like mine pretty soft), sprinkle with shredded cheese and try not to drool.

I also served these with some Tasty Black Beans, which I’m premiering later this week on this blog, and some chunky guacamole. While it’s no replacement for Essex, and I’d rather go drink mimosas and not have to wash the dishes after, (not to mention eating a pre-brunch cupcake if the line is long at Essex), I really enjoy knowing that I can have Mexican Matzo-Brei anytime my little heart desires!

Try this, and tell me about YOUR favorite brunch dishes! Maybe we can have an at-home brunch revolution!


P.G. Drunken Brunch of the Month, Take 1

Posted: February 10, 2010 | Author: Rita | Filed under: brunch, Rita | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

As much as I love my fellow Pretty Girls, we don’t see each other so often, what with each of our hectic schedules and vastly different neighborhoods we reside in. Most of us might be in the same city, but that doesn’t mean it’s so easy to get together! As Johanna mentioned, regularly hanging out is a new goal of ours, and thus the first ever Pretty Girls Drunken Brunch of the Month was born. If anyone can do homemade brunch, it’s us!

For the inaugural edition I decided to use a gravalax recipe I’ve had for over a year but never found the right occasion to make it until now. Joh made scandalously good bagels and green pepper jelly and Bakezilla brought the prosecco and juices; a perfect trifecta of brunch.

I’ll leave it to her how she actually made such wondrous, bready delights but you can certainly have my gravalax recipe! It came out great, especially considering I’d never made it before!

Gravalax
- 1/4 filet salmon (it doesn’t have to be the highest quality, necessarily)
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Handfuls of dill
- 1/2 tsp all spice (optional but recommended)
- Slices of fresh ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger (optional but recommended)
- Freshly ground black pepper

Debone the salmon, if necessary. Set aside. In a bowl, add the salt, sugar and optional spices together. Rub both sides of the filet with the salt mix. If there is skin, just rub the exposed side, or remove the skin and do both if preferred. Garnish each side with pepper and smother each side with dill, enough to cover the sides completely. Slice the salmon in half and fold together. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap then place in a ziplock bag and refrigerate for 48 hours minimum. The salmon should be weighted down and turned over every 12 hours. When it’s done, rinse off and pat dry with a paper towel. Slice, serve.

After all of us eating almost a dozen bagels fresh out of the oven, the entire plate of gravalax and consuming the whole bottle of prosecco, for having great times with friends on a lazy, brunchy Sunday, I deem the first round of PGDB to be a success!


Finger Food for Grown-ups

Posted: February 4, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Alyssa | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

Cooked quiche

Do you ever miss being able to eat with your hands with out people looking at you like you’re an animal?  I do.  Of course there are always things like quesadillas and chicken wings that are standard ‘finger food’ but there aren’t many finger foods to fit a more refined palette (not my palette, but someone else’s who is more refined.  I still love PB, banana and honey for gods sake).  So in my many internet wanderings, I stumbled across a new mini quiche recipe that both  intrigued me and made me squeal like an excited little girl at the same time (yeah, I said it).  I guess I shouldn’t say the whole recipe excited me, rather the idea that the recipe gave me.  Rather than using a standard crust for the quiche, they used prisciutto.  Thats right my friends, I give you quiche wrapped in bacon!! Its super easy too.  You can use whatever quiche recipe you prefer, but here is the one that I used:

1 egg, 2 egg whites, 3Tbsp sour cream, diced black olives, diced mushrooms (left over from my kickin pasta from earlier this week), pepper, and garlic to taste.  Whisk the eggs and sour cream together until they are smooth,  then add the rest of the ingredients.  Take four slices of prosciutto and cut them in half width-wise.  Grease 8 cups of a mini-muffin pan (I know the prosciutto has fat, but trust me its going to make your life a lot easier if you add a little extra grease.  Line the greased cups with the half slice of prosciutto by squishing it up against the sides until it fits the cup shape pretty well, then spoon the quiche mixture in dividing it evenly between all the cups.

uncooked quiche**Keep in mind that its going to puff up a little.  I got a little over zealous loading these bad boys up and  had some overflow during the cooking process.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes until the quiche is set.  Let them cool until you can handle the pan, then run a knife around the edges and the quiche should pop right out of the pan.

One word of advice though: I usually get my prosciutto sliced pretty thin, but for this recipe I would definitely recommend using a thicker cut because the thin has a tendency to pull apart more easily so there are holes in your ‘crust’.  A thicker cut would solve that problem pretty easily.

Once they are out of the pan, devour them.  These would be really good for any party from a brunch to the superbowl depending on what you put in them, and they are fantastically easy to make.  If you can poke, stir, and pour then you are good to go.   Hope you enjoy!


Sunday Brunch, Anyday

Posted: November 14, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: brunch, Johanna, Make-Ahead, Monthly Mingle, vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

One of my favorite bloggers recently posted a recipe for Saffron shortbread cookies. And she posted it as a participant in something called the Monthly Mingle. The internet is full of blog events, from Novel Food to Daring Bakers to the BBA Challenge.

This month’s Mingle theme is brunch recipes. Now, I love me some brunch, so I decided that a heck of a time to start participating would be with brunch. So….. away we go!
Breakfast Bread PuddingWhile I love french toast or a good stack of pancakes as much as anybody, I’m much happier to put my energies into a savory brunch, and similarly much happier to eat it. Plus, it’s difficult for me to make a brunch decision out at a restaurant that doesn’t involve cheese or eggs in some way. Unless it’s corned beef hash. And honestly, cheese on corned beef hash would be delicious, but overly decadent.
And yet I digress.
We were out at a party the night before our at-home brunch, and I knew that I would be up early the following morning to go for a run (4.5 miles. ughhh). So, when we got home from the party, I threw together a Breakfast Bread Pudding, which much like a strata, can be left in the fridge overnight, fully assembled, and baked the next morning.
Breakfast Bread Pudding
1. Butter a baking dish. It can be round or oval or rectangular, 9×13 or smaller, or possibly bigger if you scale up. I used a smaller one than I planned, but any baking dish will do, as long as it has 2-inch or higher sides.
2. Tear up half a loaf of crusty bread. We used Pan Paesano from Whole Foods, which has a delicious cornmeal crust, but please feel free to leave whatever loaf of bread you want out on the counter all day, so you can tear it up at night. Rip it into bite-sized pieces, and scatter them evenly over the bottom of the dish.
3. Dice 1 small onion and 1 clove of garlic, and saute in 1 tablespoon of butter until soft. Add roughly 8 ounces of chopped crimini mushrooms, and cook until softened and starting to color. Add a pinch of salt, and season with pepper. While the mushrooms and onions cook, halve 3/4 of a pint of grape tomatoes and reserve.
4. Whisk together 6 eggs and 1 cup of milk, and season with salt and pepper. Raid your cheese selection to see what you have left in the fridge. Grate whatever looks good — in our case some leftover Madrigal baby swiss that was used in several recipes, most notably the Most Amazing Mushroom Risotto EVER.  Grate 2/3 of a cup of cheese.
5. When the mushrooms are cooked, sprinkle the mushroom-onion mixture, as well as the tomatoes, over the bread chunks. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Pour in the egg mixture, and press everything down into the bottom of the baking dish. This is literally the most disgusting combination of sound and feeling ever, but persevere. Top with the rest of the cheese.
6. At this point, you could cover the bread pudding, and stick it in the fridge overnight. Otherwise, you could put it directly into a 350-degree oven for 1 hour.

You bring the champagne. I'll bring this.Call your friends up, and tell them to bring the mimosas.

Or, y’know, change out of your sweaty running clothes, thank the heavens for boyfriends who remember to put the food in the oven, and settle down on the couch with a plate of this and a cup of coffee. Your house will smell gorgeous and you will be eating a delicious meal. I suppose there might be more to life, but around 11am, I couldn’t think of a darn thing.



Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.